The whole world inexplicably loves Captain America

Obama vs. Putin.
Obama vs. Putin.
Image: Marvel
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America’s greatest export is entertainment, and its improbable brand ambassador is now Captain America. The second installment of Marvel’s movie franchise is drawing huge audiences outside the United States, even in areas of the world that might ordinarily reject a jingoistic superhero clad in red, white, and blue.

Captain America: Winter Soldier pulled in $107 million overseas this weekend, even more than its record-breaking $96 million draw in the US. It was the number one film in China ($39 million), South Korea ($20 million), the United Kingdom ($18 million), Mexico ($16 million), France ($12 million), Russia ($7 million), and Australia ($6 million).

Russia’s enthusiasm for Captain America is particularly surprising given current tensions with the US over Russian encroachment in Ukraine. The film’s villain is a brainwashed Soviet assassin, and an agent played by Scarlett Johansson is a former KGB spy who defected to the US. At one point, she says she “called in some favors from Kiev.”

When the first Captain America movie opened in 2011, its Russian distributors opted to call the film by its the subtitle, The First Avenger. Not so this time. Calling the sequel Captain America: Winter Soldier, if anything, appears to have helped.

All told, the movie has generated $207 million in 10 days outside the US. Typically, a big American blockbuster will earn two-thirds of its revenue overseas, though it was only 52% of the box office for the first Captain America film. The sequel is well on its way to shattering various records both inside and outside the US.